Cowles Stadium was packed as out as the local High School Season came to a conclusion on Tuesday Night
Photos courtesy GamefaceNZ
An estimated 2350 individual people came through and watched our four finals, with well over 1100 cheering on for the Boys’ Grand Final. Biill Whelan kindly stuck with us for the entire night to present all four winning teams with their trophy and recognize each Finals’ MVP award winner.
This age group of players have provided for a great rivalry between Cashmere and Middleton throughout the age group competitions in Christchurch over the last five years. So, it was only fitting that they meet in the Thompson Trophy final this year, with some of this year’s participants being in the crowd for the 2015 Final – the first year the CBA began running the Thomson Trophy Competition (which Middleton Grange won).
The blistering atmosphere made for an extremely high-energy game. There were clear nerves from both teams in the first quarter, but a high defensive standard was set and Cashmere did a good job at preventing Middleton Grange from getting out in transition. This continued through the second quarter, as Cashmere also begun slowing the game, getting paint touches and having a field day on the offensive glass, with the Gators only up 37-34 at the major break.
Middleton Grange came out in the second half continuing to explore transition and seeking any opportunity to get out and run. Some great outlet passing and spacing here sparked a scoring run to start the third. The Gators managed to keep their lead, and combat a number of runs from Cashmere, by sticking to their guns, and style of play. It felt like every time Cashmere was threatening to make a run, the Gators would hit a big three, or get a huge stop. Finals MVP Ben Carlile-Smith was outstanding with 22 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks as the much taller Cashmere frontline struggled with his speed inside.
Gators Head Coach jack Williamson shared a few thoughts: “The win was a testament to the work this group has put in over the last year, the culture and values we built around, and of course the overwhelming support from pairs, parents and staff. Those boys train with a similar intensity to what they play at, every drill they want to win as much as they do the game on Tuesday and that has allowed them to improve significantly over the last couple of years.
“More importantly, they personify the values that we have put in place by loving each other and playing with passion and tenacity. Winning on Tuesday against a really tough, and well-drilled, Cashmere outfit (and this is not the usual cliché, they are TOUGH) was a great boost.
“This was one of our goals for the year, but we know shift our full focus to Nelson in a week’s time.
“The support was absolutely invaluable on Tuesday night. We are a high-energy team so having that kind of support from their peers, a huge number of Middleton staff, and all those associated with the Gators club, played a huge part in the result. The boys could not express enough gratitude for that!
“The unity and passion, which Faith Harrison has been instilling in the group since before they knew the meaning of those words, were evident throughout the game. Now to refocus for an even bigger goal!”
Full Stats can be seen here (courtesy Sharon Erwood and Rebecca Moon)
Thanks to Jack Williamson for providing the vast majority of this report.